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Visiting the Fleet Street Lighthouse, Toronto, Ontario: octagonal, heritage structure dating from 1861

Updated on February 7, 2013
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
The Queen's Wharf / Fleet Street Lighthouse, Toronto
The Queen's Wharf / Fleet Street Lighthouse, Toronto | Source
1940 postcard, lighthouse formerly on the Queen's Wharf, Toronto.
1940 postcard, lighthouse formerly on the Queen's Wharf, Toronto. | Source
Map location of Toronto, Ontario
Map location of Toronto, Ontario | Source

51 years of use and over a century of disuse

Not a few current or former lighthouses on the Great Lakes are historic edifices, and have thus seen much of the passage of shipping and history. This particular structure, now known as the Fleet Street Lighthouse, dates from 1861.

So why would Fleet Street — situated well back from shipping and the shoreline of Lake Ontario — need a lighthouse?

Well, as you will have guessed, it doesn't, but this venue was chosen as a permanent resting place when what was formerly known as the Queen's Wharf Lighthouse was threatened with demolition (as indeed actually happened to another lighthouse with which the former Queen's Wharf Lighthouse was paired).

The structure is executed in wood and has three storeys.

Its height is 11 metres and, interestingly, the building is octagonally shaped.

The lighthouse saw 51 years of use until 1912. Thus, the structure has now been in disuse for over a century.

The Lighthouse's current, Fleet Street location dates from 1929.

This heritage building is thus pre-Confederation in origin, and dates from a period when what is now Ontario was called Canada West.

The City of Toronto has for many years been responsible for the upkeep of the Fleet Street Lighthouse.

The original, immediate purpose of the Lighthouse was for shipping using Toronto Harbour to be able better to negotiate sandbars in the vicinity of the port area, and in the light of the existence of bedrock close to the navigation channel to the Harbour. However, another, Western channel was dug in the early 20th century. The existence of this new channel substantially contributed to the obsolescence of the Lighthouse.

As is well known, Toronto, as also a well established port city, is the capital of Canada's most populous province, Ontario. The immediate area of Toronto around the Lighthouse in Fleet Street is known as the Fort York, or Garrison, neighbourhood.

February 7, 2013

Also worth seeing

In Downtown Toronto itself, visitor attractions include: Fort York, Exhibition Place, the Toronto Harbour Commission Building, Union Station, Old City Hall, Osgoode Hall, Campbell House, the Ontario Legislative Assembly Building at Queen's Park, the CN Tower, and many others.


How to get there: Porter Airlines, flies to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, with wide North American connections. Car rental is available at Union Station. However, visitors to Downtown Toronto will find many sights to be easily walkable. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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